The Conundrum For Future Immigrant Founders

Recent news tells that the current administration has officially delayed the implementation of the “Startup Visa” rule, which was signed into law by the previous administration and was predicted to be active by July 2017. See here.

There has been a lot of Twitter banter about US becoming a less competitive space because of this and we losing out on innovative products and services as a result of the same. While I do think that the perception may be true I don’t believe it will really be hurting America in the long run.

Always has been a land of dreams…

The USA has always been the land of dreams for anyone with an innovative thought, product or service. Some of the largest technology companies of today have been founded by immigrants.

We will continue to attract the same kind of talent because when these innovative founders came in there was no concept of startup visa and yet they succeeded. In the short term, the perception and rumors of being unfriendly may dissuade some entrepreneurs. But, being the country which has helped multiple companies establish a presence here and let them grow on the ground, not much will change in the long run.

The struggles that anyone coming in as an immigrant would face maybe at the most 10% more than what a citizen of this nation will encounter.

Startup Visa has its limitations and would have gone the H1B route:

The startup visa although sounds like a good punchline, has flaws, which if compared with the other tech visas or the lightning rod visa (H1B), would have been similarly disliked by most of the founders.

This is because it included the following caveats…

  • Mandates 250K funding from a Venture Capitalist (unheard of for early stage startups)
  • Restricts to only 3 founders per company, as part of the visa
  • Mandates 20% year on year growth in terms of revenue
  • Strips the founders of the visa as soon as the company fails
  • Has no clarity around portability to any other type of visa

Can all of these come true for any startup? Maybe, it can. But basing your visa program on revenue and failure in startups is a gamble, as neither the founder nor the investor can predict if and when any of these checklist items can turn red.

Diversity in thought, culture, and chutzpah…

So, should startups based out of the other parts of the world still aspire to come to the US, if their product or service seems to be a fit for this market?? The answer is a resounding yes!

There are many qualities which make some of these founders unique…

  • The way of thinking of a solution to the problem would be different.
  • Culture and background make them bring in a different kind of empathy and reasoning as to why certain things need to be the way they are in a product or service design.
  • There are no backup plans, there is only one path and that is the way forward.
  • If they have generated revenue in another country, then they are primed in getting. money out from their customers in a much tougher environment and ideally it will be a cakewalk for them in the US.
  • Being lean and DIY is a way of doing business in most places of the world.

Do you really need to be in the US to create a rip-roaring company?

With the abundance of remote tools and the strength of engineering talent in many parts of the world, it is not necessary for a company to come to the US to grow big. But irrespective of what your company produces, the US provides you with the largest sandbox to create, sell, reinvent and sell some more of your products and services. You can also get an abundance of feedback in the US, more than in any other country.

So even if you don’t move your entire business to the US, you still should have a presence here with an operations, sales, and marketing team here to tap the full potential of this market.

There are many easy ways to do this...

  • Hire a US based Law Firm or Accounting Firm.
  • Use Stripe’s Atlas Program if you are in the Ecommerce Business.
  • Work with my company DSHG Sonic

Where do we go next?

The bottom line is that fundamentally nothing has changed so far to dissuade anyone from coming to the US and converting their dreams of creating a product or providing a service into reality.

What has taken a beating is, the perception of US being a startup friendly nation and I think all of us in the Startup Grind and the overall startup community will have to strive together to make sure we continue to be the land of dreams